Norris 'panicked' into releasing letter that sank presidency bid
SENATOR DAVID Norris has described how he was panicked into divulging the letter that put paid to his chances of winning the presidential election last year.
In a book about the campaign called A Kick Against the Pricks, the long-serving Trinity College Senator outlines the sequence of events that destroyed his campaign.
Early on, a controversy blew up over an interview for Magill magazine more than a decade ago conducted by Helen Lucy Burke, whom he describes as “a waspish little woman”. In it he was quoted on the distinction between paedophilia and classic Greek pederasty and the interview resurfaced during the presidential campaign.
Later an unnamed Sunday newspaper contacted Norris’s personal assistant, Miriam Smith, claiming to have letters that showed he had asked for clemency in a case involving his former partner Ezra Nawi, who was convicted of having sex with a minor in Israel.
In an effort to defuse the controversy, Mr Norris decided to give an interview to the Sunday Independent and released one of the letters. It turned out none of the other Sunday papers had the letters.
He said the claim by the person who called his assistant was “a lie” and “they never had the letters”. It was a sting by that person, he said, “but, thanks to my naivety and the lack of political experience of some of my team, it worked”.
As the controversy unfolded, Mr Norris got a call from his original proposer, Dublin North Central TD Finian McGrath. The candidate asked for a few days to see how it developed. “But Finian couldn’t wait and yet again went to the media. He really dropped me in the manure by talking about the protection of children, which sounded to me as if I was a threat instead of one of the staunchest defenders of the rights of children and young people. Finian had been first in. Now he was first out.”
Mr Norris withdrew from the campaign but he strongly believes he did nothing wrong by writing the letters. “I am proud of those letters, and if they ever emerge I hope the moralisers cringe with shame. I will not be publishing them; I stand by my principles on that matter.”
RTÉ refused to accept the initial wording of an advertisement from The Irish Times promoting its extract from the book on the basis that the word “pricks” in the title was unacceptable. The phrase is a biblical reference.